News / Economy

US Unemployment Benefits Set to Run Out

Out-of-work Americans will lose federal assistance unless Congress extends it

More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.
More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will see their federal unemployment benefits expire this week, and millions more by the end of the year, unless Congress acts to extend them.

The payments are designed to provide the jobless with just enough temporary income to cover basic needs while they look for work. Congress has repeatedly prolonged the duration of those payments amid high U.S. unemployment but another extension is far from assured.

More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent. Millions of Americans have been without work for a year or more, taking a severe financial - and often emotional - blow.

In Pennsylvania, unemployed sales manager Gregg Rosen has cut back on everything from food to medication, and can no longer help support his disabled mother.

"That devastates me," he said.

Many idled workers are frustrated.

"I've been out looking for work every day, and I'm just not getting anywhere," said one unemployed worker in Rhode Island.

President Barack Obama has consistently pressed Congress to extend federal benefits for the unemployed. "We've got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they are looking for another job," he said.

But Capitol Hill is bracing for a repeat of the last extension battle in July, when Republicans objected to further benefits unless other federal spending was cut by an equal amount.

"The bill before us today is the ninth extension of unemployment benefits since mid-2008," said Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican. "And with the exception of just one bill last November, every one of those extensions was not paid for. That's a total of $135 billion added to our $14 trillion debt."

Analysts note that unemployment benefits are meant to be temporary, but the severity of the recession and the slow pace of the economic recovery have led many Americans to rely on the program for a prolonged period.

"People say 'You do not want to discourage people from looking for work by giving them too generous an income replacement,'" says Eric Toder, an economist and former U.S. Treasury official. "I think the feeling is now that there isn't 10 percent unemployment because people aren't looking for work. There is high unemployment because there aren't jobs."

Toder adds that the unemployed usually spend all the benefits they receive, providing stimulus to the economy as a whole.

Extending unemployment benefits is but one of many items Democrats hope to achieve in a brief end-of-year congressional session. Passage is considered likely in the House of Representatives, but questionable in the Senate, where Republicans can use procedural motions to block legislation.

Some jobless workers have mounted protests in the past to press for an extension of benefits, and say they stand ready to do so again - even at a cost to their pride.

"You know I'm not used to this," said one unemployed woman who was among the protesters. "I don't want to be begging people."

Most economists expect the unemployment rate to remain above nine percent for months to come.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.